Saturday, November 08, 2014

Those Parents Who Brought Their Toddlers to Confession Today

I didn't know them, but then again even if they weren't visitors from another parish I am a little bit out of the parents-of-toddlers loop. We parked at about the same time, and right away I realized I needn't rush to beat them into the confession line, since they were going to be unpacking out of the car for awhile. Dad came inside the church by himself, but several minutes later it seems the fascination of everything outside, in the bathroom, and in the narthex had worn off, because eventually one little boy face poked through the door. He saw the holy water font and dove for it like a winning layup. I broke into a laughing smile. He was obviously excited about holy water.

Eventually he came running past me straight into the arms of his Dad, and then I saw a woman enter with a slightly older boy in tow, and she was mouthing "Sorry" to him.

What ensued included those very whispered verbal tours of all the beautiful things in the church that most Catholic parents have probably done. I overheard one bit about the Divine Mercy picture. Dad and Mom were explaining bits of how everything reminds us of how God loves us. Little boy #1 was asking insightful questions about why the picture had light in certain places. (Specifically, he meant around Jesus' head and his hand extended in blessing. But He asked not, "why is it painted gold there" but "why is there light coming from it." This boy saw it the way it was intended to be seen.)

Moments later little boy #1 and little boy #2 were sent a few feet away, a specific place for children in the church, still within eyeshot (Though not my eyeshot. I was taking it all in by hearing.) Within moments, there was a bump on the arm of Littler Boy. Weeping ensued, which seemed to trigger some type of innate memory of all suffering and woe that has occurred since the dawn of time, and it was all mourned once again. Both parents went to give comfort, to console, to quiet.

And I understand why they did that, of course. Just like I understand why they whispered their lessons about the sacramental items around the church. It is part being good parents, and it is part their cortisol levels going through the roof as they worry about What Others Will Think. In fact, I could feel their cortisol levels rise.

But it ministered to me to simply hear a child honestly wail over his bumped arm. Healthy children don't hide when they are hurt. They cry, let it out, and then it conjures up My, I'm actually a bit hungry, and tired, and frustrated too. And I was there at confession because I was going to tell Jesus where I hurt, too. I really needed to unload it all on Him, at least as much as I could identify. It was good to have company and have someone show me how to just naturally let it out. And to find solace in Mother Church and Jesus.

And then, as Mom escorted the boys back out to the narthex again until her turn came, I overheard the Older Boy commenting that he had actually bumped his head, too. He was not going to let Little Brother be the one getting all the consolation. He wanted in on it, too. See, even for him, one vulnerable expression of pain triggered his own needs to the surface, too.

So, dear parents that I don't know, thanks for bringing those two boys to confession today. They were anointed for ministry at their baptism, and don't you doubt for a minute that they are living it out. Thanks for teaching them, for making them aware of Beauty in the church. Please keep doing it, and always teach them beyond what you think their years can hold, because that's where kids typically are, anyway.

And I hope your cortisol levels are ok.

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